Monday, November 28, 2011


Every Tuesday it happens. There is a feeling of anticipation in the air, the local shops appear to hold their breath awaiting the onset of the weekly fruit and vegetable market that descends on the neighbourhood. 

The traffic is diverted for a day, the market's streets are packed with purposeful women and elderly men hunting for the bargains. One can instantly tell where the deals are by the presence of a crowd of women usually in headscarves with  pull along shopping trolleys (the type my mother used in the 70s) haggling over a pile of peppers or onions.

There is a feeling of plenty, of bounty even. The beautiful rows of purples, reds, oranges, greens of every hue. The fish stall shows off its tantalisingly fresh cheap harvest of the sea. The stall holders yell out their undecipherable calls. 

In all this I sense something deeply and profoundly whole. 
A vegetable bazaar in Istanbul.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Forest Scenes

I've enjoyed looking at John Salmon's work in the last few weeks watercolourclub.blogspot his pictures of Epping Forest remind me how challenging painting trees can be for me. Trees remain a very attractive subject for me but they cause me to pause and think. The above is another Istanbul scene, not what people would think of a city of 18 million plus people.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fish II and Ottoman Calligraphy

The more I look at these creatures the more fascinating they become. I'm sure you can sense a growing obsession beginning to take a hold. The colours in fish really are amazing, constantly changing and quite hard to capture. Actually one can feel quite stared at looking at this piece, lots of eyes looking at the viewer. Enough said...

Now onto something completely different: I recently attended an exhibition of the art of Islamic Calligraphy and it's specifically Ottoman manifestation. I was treated to some profoundly beautiful pieces. The works do not end with beautiful calligraphy but rather include the most intricate decoration and illustrations set in a layout with variations on traditional geometric patterns. What's really most stunning is the Ottoman love of flowers and how they portrayed tulips and roses amidst the set patterns of Islamic calligraphy. Take a look for yourself.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Yes, this indeed is another departure. From the misty (wannabe) orientalist horizons of Istanbul to a plate of fish. Natural pattern, texture and colour are what I'm intrigued by at the moment.

Fish are important here. The anchovies of the Black Sea or 'Hamsi' as they are called here are a seasonal harvest from the ocean. They swarm down into the Marmara Sea and are for sale in the bazaars of the city for just a coupe of dollars a kilo. The Barbun are the cute little pink fish and the other one in the picture is a herring I think?

All the same, one feels a wonderful sense of abundance and 'rightness' about such a protein rich food source, no additives etc.. dip 'em in flour, fry 'em for a few minutes and eat them whole (you do need to gut them though...)

It's a pity my kids don't feel the same way.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quiet Death

This is a bit of a departure. Maybe getting my car through what we'd call an MOT in the UK and here a 'muayene' has gone to my head. I don't really like cars, buying one was a tortuous decision, I haven't owned one for twelve years and I've enjoyed every minute of it. 

In the end the decision to buy one was a difficult one. I was swung by the thought of some mobile freedom after too many Saturday afternoons spent inside after none of us could face more hours on an Istanbul bus going nowhere fast. 

This sad example was pointed out to me by a friend with a Land Rover fantasy. Despite my attempt being a little rugged and raw I feel the whole area of automobiles could have some potential, no really it could. Next week I'll be back to the hum drum of painting Ottoman graves.....

Signup To My Newsletter